Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London was packed on May 14 with news media, dignitaries, spiritual leaders, and general observers, who all came to watch the Dalai Lama become the 40th recipient of the Templeton Prize. The prize, given each year to the person who exemplifies, in the words of the prize’s founder, Sir John Templeton, “entrepreneurs of the spirit,” is the largest cash annual cash award given to an individual, valued at $1.7 million.
At the conclusion of ceremony, His Holiness said that he would be giving his prize money away, and announced that $200,000 of it would go to the Mind and Life Institute.. In his formal letter announcing the donation, he noted that the organization “has been at the forefront of organizing dialogue between modern science and spirituality.”
A Mind and Life Co-Founder and the Honorary Board Chair, His Holiness commented on the mutual learning between science and Buddhism. “It has been a pleasure to discover the extent to which we have been able to enrich each other’s understanding,” he said.
Mind and Life was represented at the ceremony by President Arthur Zajonc and Board members Daniel Goleman and Richard Davidson, all of whom received ceremonial katas from His Holiness.
“We were, of course, delighted that His Holiness’s contributions were recognized,” Zajonc wrote in a note from London, “but what stunned all of us present was that he chose to donate $200,000 of the award to Mind and Life. I spoke with His Holiness at the reception following the formal ceremony, where he reaffirmed his commitment to Mind and Life. He said that he viewed the work we are doing as important and of real benefit to future generations. This is an extraordinary endorsement of the last 25 years of work, which was guided by Francisco Varela, Adam Engle, and the Mind and Life Board, and His Holiness’s earnest commitment to our future work mirrors our own continued resolve to further our efforts that we might enrich each other still further.”
“I join my colleagues on the board of the Mind and Life Institute,” said Board chair Thupten Jinpa, “in celebrating the joyful occasion of His Holiness the Dalai Lama receiving the 2012 Templeton Prize. We feel deeply honored by His Holiness making a gift of $200,000 from the prize money. This represents a powerful public endorsement of the Institute and its work by the Dalai Lama. The entire Board expresses its deep appreciation to His Holiness for this most generous gift and the strong encouragement it represents.”
In his acceptance speech, His Holiness explained his gift to Mind and Life by noting that the 21st century should be a century of peace and compassion. “That will not materialize through prayer and meditation,” he said, “but through education . . . [we have to] educate [young people] holistically. For many decades my special friends have been scientists, brain specialists. Many scientists find warm-heartedness, really bring inner peace. This is not just words: they carry out experiments, they convince through the training of the mind, through awareness of different sorts of values. A person’s mental state changes, their blood pressure reduces, stress also reduces. We are not talking about the next life; we are not talking about heaven. We are simply talking about how to build a healthy body through a healthy mind. Scientific research is immensely helpful.”
Watch the video below to see His Holiness the Dalai Lama receiving the award, and below that see a copy of the letter His Holiness gave to Mind and Life President Arthur Zajonc.